If you’re seeking a destination that combines pristine beaches, warm hospitality, and a calendar brimming with exciting events, Fort Walton Beach is the perfect choice. In Fort Walton Beach, visitors will find a range of fun events throughout the year to cater to any interests. Whether you are celebrating the holidays, getting out on the water or enjoying local art and culture, there is something for everyone. Our events held throughout the year offer a wide range of experiences that connect visitors with the local culture and community in a way only the Emerald Coast can do. Check out these Fort Walton Beach annual events and mark your calendar for your next visit!
Fort Walton Beach lets the good times roll with a Mardi Gras celebration every year in the heart of downtown. A lively parade winds down Eglin Parkway, with colorful floats tossing out beads and treats, as well as an official Mardi Gras Krewe leading the festivities. The party continues with a block party and live music along Ferry Road throughout the afternoon. Come down early to grab a spot for this free, family-friendly event.
Enjoy the sea breeze and kick off a great spring season with two days of kite flying fun on the beach! The annual Spring Kite Festival in Fort Walton Beach is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the simple joy of flying a kite, with free lessons, stunt kite exhibitions and giant show kites flying high over the beach. This free event is fun for all ages and takes place at the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk the first weekend of April.
Celebrate local Native American heritage in late April at the Musical Echoes Native American Flute Festival. This two-day event includes traditional dancing, live music, local art vendors and a flute maker competition. All events will take place at Fort Walton Beach Landing Park and admission is free for all ages, with donations appreciated.
Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival kicks off in late May with a swashbuckling takeover of Fort Walton Beach. Over the course of a weekend, acrew of pirates invades, with full-scale exciting pirate battle reenactments taking place at Fort Walton Beach Landing. After the battle is won and celebrated with a fireworks display, a Torchlight Parade moves down Eglin Parkway to distribute the pirate loot to the crowds. This fun and family-friendly event is an annual crowd-pleaser and should not be missed!
The whole Emerald Coast is alive with patriotism and fireworks displays around the 4th of July, where Independence Day celebrations abound in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding communities. Enjoy food and live entertainment at Fort Walton Beach Landing on July 4th, topped off with an incredible fireworks display. For a quieter experience, head to Okaloosa Boardwalk or the beach. With many other communities like Destin offering fireworks displays on the same night, you may be able to see a panoramic view. For a bonus show on July 3rd, head to Destin Commons, where the Star-Spangled Food Truck Festival offers a variety of local food, as well as live music and dancing before the fireworks display at dusk.
Visitors in mid-August will enjoy the excitement of Boat Week and the Emerald Coast Poker Run. This boating celebration draws marine craft enthusiasts from all over to showcase their boats and participate in fun events. The week culminates with the Poker Run, which is a timed event where boaters maneuver around the bay to collect a playing card at 5-7 stops, in the hopes of putting together a winning poker hand. After the run, boaters will play their hand at the Poker Run party for a chance at grand prizes. Spectators can watch the event from the shore or buy a ticket to the Poker Run party, which also includes food and entertainment, blackjack and roulette games and a silent auction. Proceeds from the Poker Run benefit local charities and youth organizations.
In mid-September, family fun awaits at the Northwest Florida Fair! This classic fun fair includes amusement rides, midway games, a petting zoo, fair food and an art show. Admission is $5 and free for kids under 10 years old (amusement rides ticketed separately). This event is open for a week and includes free parking, making it a great option for visitors to stop in for some carnival fun.
Put on your lederhosen to celebrate Oktoberfest in Fort Walton Beach. Held at Fort Walton Elks Lodge, this party has the classic Bavarian influence with a Florida flavor. Enjoy great beer and food, with live music and games all evening. Tickets are $20 and children under 12 get in for free.
The month of October also brings the Destin Fishing Rodeo. This 31-day event includes a fishing competition with daily weigh-in, a Destin Rodeo 5K Run, the Destin Seafood Festival and more! Anglers of all ages are welcome to compete in the rodeo on any type of watercraft, and spectators are encouraged to attend the daily weigh-ins, where anglers will show their daily catch.
The holiday season in Fort Walton Beach offers many events from mid-November through the end of the year. The Christmas Parade in Fort Walton Beach is an annual favorite in early December, with cheerful floats, marching bands and Santa Claus winding down Eglin Parkway. Another great nearby event is the Destin Holiday Boat Parade, where festively decorated boats cruise the harbor and a fireworks display lights up the night. Stop by the Mistletoe Market earlier in the day to pick up gifts and try festive samples.
Where to Stay in Fort Walton Beach
Legacy Vacations offers over 70 Fort Walton Beach vacation rentals, with Gulf front condos in 16 different resort complexes. Our beautiful Fort Walton Beach rentals allow you and your family to immerse yourself in the distinctively southern coastal lifestyle each time you visit. You’ll find fully equipped kitchens, comfortable living spaces, and other amenities like balconies, direct beach access, beautifully landscaped pool areas, fitness centers, and more.
Book a vacation rental with Legacy Vacations today and experience the charm of the Emerald Coast! We can’t wait to host you in one of our Fort Walton Beach accommodations.